A crew member on the reality show "COPS" was shot and killed by Omaha, Nebraska, police Wednesday during the filming of an armed robbery at a fast-food restaurant, police said. Bryce Dion, a 38-year-old sound technician, was struck as police fired on the suspect in the robbery, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, in a Wendy's. Washington was carrying what police and witnesses thought was a real handgun, but turned out to be an airsoft pellet gun. He also was killed in the shootout.
Dion was hit in what Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer calls a "chaotic scene." Dion was wearing a bulletproof vest, but a bullet hit in an uncovered area under his arm. A "COPS" photographer who was also caught in the crossfire managed to duck for cover as officers opened fire and was not hit. At least 20 rounds were fired in the shootout, according to KETV-TV.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy, and our main concern is helping his family in any way we can," a statement from "COPS" producer Langley Productions said. “Bryce Dion was a long-term member of the 'Cops' team and a very talented and dedicated person. We mourn his passing. An investigation is ongoing and we are cooperating with local authorities."
— Jake Wasikowski (@jakewasikowski) August 27, 2014
The three officers involved were put on paid leave, and an investigation is open. "COPS" footage shot during the robbery will be examined by a grand jury. Dion has 41 credits as a sound technician, 14 as a camera and electrical technician and eight as an assistant director on the Internet Movie Database.
"COPS" has been on the air since 1989. It offers a view into the everyday conflicts police officers find themselves in. The show's producers told KCCI that Dion's death was the first of its kind for the show. The production team was planning to film for another week in Omaha, but Langley Productions said it wasn't sure if they would cancel.